Lennox Lewis defeats David Tua

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The Independent Online

It was the David Tua Show until the bell rang. Then it was all Lennox Lewis.

It was the David Tua Show until the bell rang. Then it was all Lennox Lewis.

A sellout crowd at Mandalay Bay came to see a brawl, but what they got was a superb tactical performance by the IBF-WBC heavyweight champion as Lewis scored a one-sided decision Saturday night.

After dominating the fight, Lewis then closed the show sounding like a Muhammad Ali imitator in a Las Vegas lounge act.

"If Tyson wants to come to test; I'll put him to rest; Lennox Lewis is the best," said Lewis, who hopes to fight former undisputed champion Mike Tyson sometime next year. Tyson has said he will not fight again - an announcement met with great skepticism in the boxing world.

Lewis' manager Frank Maloney said Lewis "will go away now and have a rest, and leave the teams to try and negotiate the next fight - with Tyson".

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "He deserves it. He was robbed of a fight against Riddick Bowe; he was robbed of a fight with Michael Moorer, when Moorer was in his prime.

"Tyson's been out there and has always been like a shadow. He's made a lot of noises about how great he is, and how he wants the belt. Well, Lennox Lewis has got the belt.

"If he wants it, come and get it."

Tua came into the ring to the sound of a conch shell being blown, the earsplitting beat of Samoan drums and the cheers of the crowd. Then he spent the rest of the night eating a diet of left jabs and right-hand leads to the face.

The 5-foot-10 native of Western Samoa now living in New Zealand simply had no chance against the 6-5 champion from Britain.

Dan Goossen of America Presents, Tua's promoter, said the challenger sustained a rib injury two months ago in sparring and hurt the rib again in the second round.

Lewis scoffed at the excuse.

"I had a knee injury, a nose injury and an ear injury. I was wondering if he was aware of those," Lewis said.

"What was wrong with David Tua was Lennox Lewis," the champion said. "He had never seen a Lennox Lewis."

Lewis was credited with landing 300 punches to 110 for Tua. Of the punches Lewis landed, 213 were jabs.

The crowd booed often during the fight - lustily at the end of the 12 rounds - but Lewis fought a very intelligent match, deciding not to turn it into a brawl and give Tua a shot at landing his vaunted left hook.

That was the one hand Lewis had to be careful of.

"He doesn't throw a right hand, he doesn't have a right hand," Lewis said.

Judge Dave Moretti scored it 119-109, Chuck Giampa had it 118-110 and Jerry Roth saw it 117-111, all for the 35-year-old Lewis.

Before the fight, Tua had said: "I'm short, but I'm big."

Being short is what did him in.

Lewis' strategy was to circle and jab and throw right-hand leads. When Tua was able to get him into a corner, Lewis either tied him up or spun out of the corner.

Tua seemed to have the best of the third round when he landed a good hook and a couple of body punches. But Lewis took complete control of the match in the fifth round. In that round, the 249-pound Lewis landed four or five hard right hands and several jarring jabs to the head of the 245-pound Tua.

"You can say what you want, but you have to bring it to the ring," Lewis said. "I was doing all the work in the fight. If you come to war, you have to bring your whole arsenal, not just a left hook and a haircut."

Lewis was referring to Tua's Samoan warrior hairdo - the back and sides of his head were shaved and his hair stood up about five inches.

In fact, in the early rounds Tua's hair was giving him almost as much trouble as Lewis was. After the fifth round, his corner wet it down to keep it out of his eyes.

Lewis, however, spent most of the fight hitting Tua in the head. In the sixth round, after Tua landed a hook early, Lewis shook him with four or five right hands and a stiff jab. Tua came back with a big hook near the end of the round, but that hook was a threat and not much of a weapon on this night.

"He just kept waiting around trying to land that left hook," Lewis said.

From the seventh round on, it was Lewis' jab, right-hand leads and occasional 3-4-punch combinations bouncing off Tua's head that kept Lewis in charge as the fans kept hoping for fireworks.

About 1,000 of the fans in the sellout crowd of about 12,500 journeyed from New Zealand to see their hero. At fight's end, they were almost as frustrated as Tua was.

"I'll make no excuses," said Tua, who will turn 28 on November 21. "I did the best I could. I give much respect to Lennox Lewis. He is a great champion."

Lewis earned $8.5 million. The victory was the 38th for Lewis against one loss and one draw. He has 27 knockouts.

Tua, who was the No. 1 IBF and WBC contender, earned $3.5 million and now is 37-2 with 32 knockouts.